The Cal Poly softball team cleans out its lockers today after its final team meeting of the 2007 season.
A season that is sure to be remembered and discussed by future patrons of Bob Janssen Field for years.
“We’re just disappointed it’s over,” Cal Poly head coach Jenny Condon said Sunday. “February can’t come soon enough for us.”
Although the Mustangs ended the season with a disappointing 0-2 showing and early exit from the NCAA Tournament, they without question achieved their best season since moving to the Division I level in 1995, and arguably the best since the program began keeping records in 1981.
Cal Poly (39-17) reached the tournament for the first time, won its first Big West Conference title and set program records for both wins in a season (39) and winning percentage (.696).
All that history, though, still feels very much in the present for Cal Poly center fielder Lisa Modglin, one of five departing seniors.
“It’s still a little soon,” Modglin said Sunday. “It’s sinking in. We have a team meeting (today), maybe after you clean out the locker.”
Modglin enjoyed the finest season of any player in program history. The Simi Valley native was named Cal Poly’s Female Athlete of the Year, Big West Player of the Year and to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-West Region First Team. In the leadoff role, she finished the regular season second nationally among all Division I players in batting average (.488) and slugging percentage (.951) and led the Mustangs in nine offensive categories, including home runs (16) and RBI (44).
And Modglin is not the only high-profile player on the way out.
The other four seniors are catcher Jackie Gehrke-Jones, pitcher Emily Hively, first baseman Shannon Brooks and left fielder Kelly Comstock.
Modglin (235 hits) and Gehrke-Jones (170) finished their collegiate careers first and seventh, respectively, on the school’s all-time list of hits leaders. Hively is sixth all-time in wins (26), Brooks tied for fifth in single-season batting average (.364 in 2005) and Comstock seventh all-time in runs (63).
“It’s an awesome group,” Modglin said of the seniors. “It’s a pretty close senior class. We’ll keep in touch.”
Condon said the quintet has been instrumental in showing the underclassmen the way.
“They did a great job for us this year,” she said. “The last three years have been great. They’ve helped the team get better and better. They helped get the program to the postseason. Even though they’re leaving, they helped build a tradition.”
But can all that production be replaced?
“I think next year we’re obviously going to miss the seniors,” Condon said. “We’ve got some freshmen coming in that can step in and try to fill those shoes. We’ve got a couple good bats coming in. Hopefully we build on what we’ve done this year.”
Among the players Cal Poly has returning who put up solid numbers in 2007 are sophomore shortstop Melissa Pura (.364, 10 homers, 48 RBI), junior designated player Sarah Iwata (.329, .447 on-base percentage), Big West Newcomer of the Year freshman first baseman Krysten Cary (.286, five homers, 31 RBI), sophomore third baseman Cristen Lee (.262), junior right-hander Robyn Kontra (12-7, 2.28 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Jenna Maiden (13-4, 2.40).
The Mustangs announced last fall a recruiting class comprised of four California high school standouts – pitcher Anna Cahn (Los Alamitos), first baseman Krista Haux (Soquel) and utility players Stephanie Correia (Visalia) and Brandi Gutierrez (Bakersfield).
“I think that they have an awesome team on the horizon,” Modglin said. “I know the recruiting class is a good recruiting class. Even our sophomore class this year, they’re going to be dominant next year.”